Despite ratings that have fallen since his late 2010 debut, Turner has extended the contract of TBS late-night host Conan O’Brien through April 2014. O’Brien does have appeal among advertisers looking to reach a young male audience and helps drive Turner’s efforts to command higher affiliate fee payments from cable/satellite/telco TV operators.
Turner also suggested that gauging “Conan’s” success simply through linear TV ratings is shortsighted. The show generates added viewing via DVRs and digital platforms and sparks interaction via platforms, such as the Turner-operated (and ad-supported) TeamCoco.com.
O’Brien also has 5 million-plus Twitter followers. (The man who preceded and followed him on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno, has 326,000.)
Turner added that “Conan” has created interest by taking the show on the road to New York and Chicago in June.
Michael Wright, who heads programming at TBS and other Turner networks, stated that the company is “proud to be in business” with O'Brien for the “long run. Night after night, Conan and his team have put together terrific shows that draw a young and fiercely loyal audience,” Wright stated. “As if that weren't enough, they have also built a dynamic online presence that keeps fans engaged like no other show in late night.”
“Conan” ratings have dropped since its debut in November 2010, partly because there was such a promotional blitz behind his debut. Also, the show is in a difficult time slot, facing off against Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and E!’s Chelsea Handler.
Turner said that “Conan” has posted three straight months of growth, while ratings in the 18-to-34 demo were up 18% in January compared to October 2011. There has
been an added 12% bump in February.